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View from the trenches: Tanzania

27 August 2013

2013 excavations by the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project at the MNK site

Renata Peters and Ignacio de la Torre have recently returned from the 2013 field season at Olduvai Gorge, led by the Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project (OGAP).

The Olduvai Geochronology Archaeology Project (OGAP), a collaborative international research project co-directed by Lindsay McHenry, Ignacio de la Torre and Jackson Njau is concerned with the study of the mechanisms that led to the origins of the Acheulean in Olduvai Gorge.

Dig Diary 2013

In 2013, excavations continued at three of the main sites currently excavated by OGAP, namely EFHR, HWKEE and MNK. 

Conservation work in the Laetoli lab in the Leakey camp. Photo courtesy of Gai Jorayev

UCL conservators, Renata Peters and Rebecca Bennett, joined the project team for the first time this year to undertake a programme of finds conservation at the sites. The conservation work focused on developing new approaches to lifting and consolidating fragile fossil and lithic material, removing matrices and collections care.  

The challenges presented by the finds included cracking, excavation scars, delamination and breaks caused by the inherent instability of the fossils and lavas, massive concretions or sediments attached to both fossils and lithics and issues relating to reconstruction or consolidation carried out on site.

The team were very fortunate to collaborate with Dan Mainoya, a conservator and curator at the Natural History Museum in Arusha, Tanzania, and benefited from his long experience of working on material from Olduvai.

The 2013 field season has produced exciting results that will contribute to a better understanding of the origins of the Acheulean at Olduvai Gorge, the theme of the ERC-funded project ORACEAF, based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

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